February 19, 2011

Saints Slip by Quincy, Fall to Blossoms at UAH Chillout

DECATUR, AL – The 2nd-ranked North Georgia softball team split a pair of games on day two of the UAH Charger Chillout, pulling out a 2-1 thriller in nine innings over Quincy University before falling 6-1 at the hands of 19th-ranked Arkansas Monticello in non-conference action.

The split sends North Georgia to 12-1 on the season, as they will go right back to work on Sunday, taking on 6th-ranked Wayne State at 10:00 a.m., before turning around and battling 9th-ranked Alabama-Huntsville to close out play at the weekend classic.

A pitching duel broke out in the opening game of the day against Quincy University as sophomore right-hander Krysten Connelly pitched herself another gem, going 7.0 innings and allowing just two hits while striking out seven.

Connelly would usually be in line for a victory with the two-hit shutout through seven innings, but Torie Bunzell of Quincy was equally impressive, shutting down the North Georgia lineup and sending the scoreless game to extra innings.

Neither team cashed in during the eighth frame, but the Saints struck first in the ninth inning as Ansley Williams was placed on second base and came around to score when Kasey Knight reached on an error, giving North Georgia a 1-0 lead. Sarah Johnson followed with a single to send Knight around to third as she later scored on a fielder's choice to give the Saints a 2-0 edge.

Quincy would not go down easy in the last ninth inning as Jessica Coan came on to pitch the extra frames for North Georgia and she fired back-to-back wild pitches to plate Laura Molinar who was placed on second to start the inning.

The Lady Hawks had the tying run reach base when Samantha O'Brien walked and then stole second base, giving Quincy a chance to tie the game with still no outs in the inning. Coan would go to work from there however, delivering back-to-back strikeouts before Erin Gregory grounded out to end the game.

Coan (5-0) continued her good work, going 2.0 innings and not allowing a hit, while striking out four as she picks up the win. Bunzell (1-1) was the tough-luck loser, allowing two runs, both unearned, while striking out 14 batters in all 9.0 innings of work.

Game two had a promising start as the Saints jumped on top in the first inning. Willams was hit by a pitch to lead off of the game, and after stealing second, Knight reached base on bunt single to send Williams to third with no outs. Hilary Cox then grounded out to shortstop, delivering the first run of the game and giving the Saints a 1-0 lead.

It was all Cotton Blossoms from there, as Arkansas Monticello scored in each of the first four innings and cruised to a 6-1 victory. Senior Sarah Hayslip had an RBI triple in the first and an RBI single in the second, while Kayla Jackson, who also recorded the win in the circle, had an RBI bases loaded walk in the second and picked up an RBI double in the fourth to lead UAM.

Senior right-hander Sarah Phillips (6-1) struggled in the circle for the Saints, lasting 3.1 innings and allowing seven hits and six runs, four earned, while walking three and striking out two. Connelly came on in relief and tossed 2.2 scoreless innings, allowing one hit and one walk while striking out two.

The Saints will return to action for the final day of the UAH Charger Chillout taking on two  of the nation's top ten teams. First pitch of game one is 10:00 a.m. against 6th-ranked Wayne State followed by game two of the day slated for 2:00 p.m against 9th-ranked Alabama-Huntsville.